RN: At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, it's the best of times and the worst of times. The food has never been better -- that's the upside -- but unfortunately there's no escaping the TV screens. They are so prevalent that it's almost impossible to tune out "Fox & Friends," or whatever the regularly scheduled drivel is.


CP: But you love TV. I must never phone you at home during prime time, for fear I'll interrupt "The Good Wife" or one of your "CSIs."

RN: Yeah, "CSI: Dubuque." It's not just the airport. They're at the gas station pump and the doctor's office. One supermarket I frequent has so many flat-screens behind the checkout stands -- with a constant close-captioned feed from the Food Network -- that I sometimes wonder if I'm actually shopping at Best Buy. Whatever happened to thumbing through the magazines?

CP: Listen to you, going all retro-nostalgic. In fact, as a person who doesn't watch much television, I am sometimes distracted to the point of nervous collapse when confronted by a pub full of flat-screens. I was at a sporty-type bar recently in which it was impossible not to see golf, or hockey or what-have-you. My friends thought I was having a petit mal seizure. Imagine if they had been showing a swimming-and-diving meet.

RN: Instead we get round-the-clock Paula Deen and Ann Curry. I wonder if this sinister TV-screen proliferation thing is driven by the networks, the way General Motors helped obliterate streetcar systems in the 1950s.

CP: Of course, if they wanted to broadcast a John Waters film fest, I'd be all over that. But no. Always with the CNN, or sports. Where's the 24-hour Broadway channel when your flight has been delayed two hours?

RN: Thank you. And since eight out of 10 Americans -- OK, I made that stat up, but it sounds credible, doesn't it? -- own a smartphone or an iPad-like device, aren't most of us carrying TV screens anyway?

CP: I hate anything that drowns out those shouts of encouragement when I'm having a rousing game of Scramble With Strangers.

RN: The TVs-in-restaurants trend really makes me crazy. Rather than having our eyeballs assaulted by ESPN, can't we just -- I don't know -- conduct a conversation?

CP: Even people-watching, one of my fave pastimes, has been affected. Now, at an airport, I'm stuck watching people watching television.

RN: In other words, reliving your childhood.